Erosion at path to Ballston Beach on Wednesday, 27 October 2021.

I’ll admit I wasn’t prepared for this storm. I got a wind warning on Monday, but we get those all the time. In Tuesday’s reissued warning there were troubling predictions of gusts up to 70 mph. But nothing really prepared me for the driving rain and ultimate gusts of 97 mph in Provincetown. I was lucky. I never lost power and the one tree that fell on my property was far from the house. 

I should know better than to rely on weather predictions. Being this far into the Atlantic, weather defies the best of science (which is generally pretty good). In our era of climate change, this is only going to become more pronounced. And preparedness is no longer an ‘event’ for me, it has to be a way of life.

Windy at Pamet Harbor.

I’m not a storm chaser or an adventure hound, but I do like to get a peek at what’s happening. As the storm gathered on Tuesday afternoon, I went to Ballston and Long Nook. The wind was fierce. At Long Nook, where the hollow forms a natural wind tunnel, it was nearly impossible to stand for 15 seconds to make a video. Surprisingly, on the bayside, at Corn Hill Beach, it was almost calm.

Breach of the low dune at Ballson Beach on Wednesday, 27 October 2021. Atlantic waters are flowing into the headwaters of the Pamet River.

Late in the day on Wednesday, when it seemed that the storm was passing from my kitchen table, a mile inland, I took a drive down to Ballston Beach, where the high tide was breaching the low dune and pouring into the Pamet River headwaters. On the bayside, at Pamet Harbor, the river was as high as I’ve ever seen it. 

Erosion at Ballston beach, morning of 28 October 2021. Notice the channel caused by the rain and the remains of a beach plum bush at the bottom of the dune.

I went down this morning and was reminded that erosion happens from the top of the dune as well as from the bottom. The ocean cuts away the underside and the rains destabilize the top edge. Sometimes flows of rainwater create channels and large areas pour down to the waves.

Field Guide: Walking & Painting on Cape Cod 
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